Marvel marks 80 years with mas­sive comic

The Morning Call - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - By An­thony McCart­ney

LOS AN­GE­LES — Marvel Comics is celebratin­g its 80th an­niver­sary with a mas­sive is­sue that pays trib­ute to its his­tory and in­tro­duces a new ob­ject with im­pli­ca­tions for the su­per­hero uni­verse go­ing for­ward.

The Marvel Comics 1000 is­sue, re­leased Au­gust 28, pays homage to many of Marvel’s most rec­og­niz­able char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing Iron Man, the Hulk and Spi­der-Man, and also spot­lights some lesser known ones. Each page is de­voted to a year in Marvel’s his­tory, with the first one re­count­ing the cre­ation of the Hu­man Torch in Marvel Comics No. 1 in 1939.

A mix of se­ri­ous and hu­mor­ous sto­ries fol­lows, like the page de­voted to 1944 in which Cap­tain Amer­ica ex­plains why he fights, Dr. Strange’s strug­gle to keep his magic cape smelling fresh (1951), the in­tro­duc­tion of Groot (1960) and a page de­voted to Iron Man’s suit for 2008, the year Marvel’s block­buster film franchise launched.

“I def­i­nitely wanted this to be a range of ex­pe­ri­ences and not have it be an 80-page chuck­le­fest” nor “an 80-page downer,” said Tom Brevoort, the is­sue’s editor.

Brevoort said he gave the is­sue’s dozens of cre­ators gen­eral guid­ance, but also the freedom to explore a char­ac­ter or story line in a sin­gle page. Many of the pages adopt what Brevoort called a “confession­al” ap­proach where a char­ac­ter is speak­ing to an in­ter­viewer. The page for 2017 fea­tures su­per­heroes’ an­swers to “What do you re­gret,” or an­other in which Dead­pool takes a lit­tle too long to an­swer one of the is­sue’s re­cur­ring ques­tions, “Why do you do what you do?”

Brevoort said: “Even if you don’t like ev­ery sin­gle page, there’s an­other page right af­ter it that’s dif­fer­ent.”

The artis­tic styles range from the sim­pler draw­ings of early comics to the hy­per-de­tailed style of some con­tem­po­rary ti­tles. There are nu­mer­ous guest writ­ers, in­clud­ing au­thors Neil Gaiman and Brad Meltzer, bas­ket­ball great Ka­reem Ab­dulJab­bar and film di­rec­tors Phil Lord and Christo­pher Miller.

Brevoort said he en­listed peo­ple he knew were fans of Marvel comics with the aim of adding a “cool fla­vor” to some of the pages and “show the reach that Marvel has had over 80 years that you don’t re­ally see.”

Con­tro­versy emerged Tues­day af­ter The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter posted a story not­ing that the text on Cap­tain Amer­ica’s page rep­re­sent­ing 1944 had been al­tered from an early ver­sion that pointed to in­equal­i­ties in Amer­ica and flaws in its sys­tems. The re­vised text has Cap­tain Amer­ica talk­ing about fight­ing in­jus­tice and how ha­tred, big­otry and ex­clu­sion are not pa­tri­otic val­ues.

Marvel did not com­ment on the changes, and in­ter­views for this story were com­pleted be­fore the Re­porter’s story was posted.

While many of the pages are one-offs, about a quar­ter of the is­sue is de­voted to a story line that traces back to Marvel’s in­fancy about a trio of men try­ing to har­ness the power of a black mask that has been passed down for cen­turies. Who­ever wears the mask gains pow­ers

‘I def­i­nitely wanted this to be a range of ex­pe­ri­ences and not have it be an 80-page chuck­le­fest’ nor ‘an 80-page downer.’ — Tom Brevoort, Marvel Comics 1000 editor

that give them a fight­ing chance against even the strong­est su­per­heroes.

Be­fore Marvel 1000, the trio called the Three Xs ap­peared in only a sin­gle Marvel is­sue from 1940. While other char­ac­ters from Marvel’s early days have been reimag­ined, writer Al Ewing said the old story of the Three Xs “had some­thing very fa­mil­iar about it” and pro­vided a seed to bring a broad story that fit not only the an­niver­sary is­sue, but one that will con­tinue in up­com­ing comics.

Ewing, who is cred­ited as the is­sue’s “mas­ter­mind,” said he scoured old Marvel is­sues to make sure there were enough bread crumbs that Marvel 1000 could go back and find later. “I didn’t want to do too much that read­ers couldn’t go and hunt down them­selves,” Ewing said.

Most of Marvel’s vast cat­a­log is now avail­able dig­i­tally through its Marvel Un­lim­ited sub­scrip­tion, mak­ing re­search for Ewing, and fans, eas­ier.

At its core, Ewing said he hopes read­ers walk away with an un­der­stand­ing about what it means to be a Marvel hero.

“We talk a lot about kings, and there are quite a few Marvel heroes who are kings,” he said. “But we also talk about the other side of that, the hero that rises from the com­mon­al­ity of hu­man­ity, the hero who could be you.”

ALEX ROSS/MARVEL COMICS

The cover of Marvel Comics #1000, which went on sale Aug. 28.

JOHN CASSADAY/MARVEL COMICS

A page de­voted to 1944 from Marvel Comics #1000, the pub­lisher’s 80th an­niver­sary is­sue.

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